BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Sounds of chaos. WJZ has pored through hours of just-released radio transmissions that show just how bad conditions were for police as they tried to take control during the riots.
Mike Hellgren has more.
We heard calls of “do not chase” the rioters but no direct stand down orders. What was clear is officers on the streets that day were frustrated over not having the resources and direction they needed and they had trouble protecting themselves, let alone other people and property.
WJZ reviewed hours of newly-released recordings from the April 27th Baltimore riots and they paint a revealing picture of a city slowly turning out of control.
“We’re getting bricks thrown at us,” one officer said.
“He got hit with a brick so we’re going to stand by here. I can’t leave these officers here by themselves,” another said.
A frustrated, ill-equipped police force struggled, even though the mayor and police deny claims they were ordered to stand down.
“It wasn’t even until there was a controversy surrounding the stand down order that I even knew what a stand down order was,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Here’s what police said on the radio:
— “Hold the line. Do not go forward and do not chase them.”
— “We’re sitting ducks here and there’s a couple hundred people here.”
— “I am not going to let my guys get hurt because we have equipment and we’re not using it. Somebody get me some pepper fog and now.”
With police nearly stretched to their breaking point, they couldn’t respond to emergency calls in other parts of the city.
“I’m just only doing the high priorities. Everything else can wait,” one officer said.
The police union says in some cases, officers had to get approval just to make arrests and some had to buy their own safety gear.
More than 150 officers were injured that day and the city has yet to provide a full public accounting of what went wrong.
“This is everyone. If you’ve got something, drop it. Get over here. Get your riot gear. Make sure you’re prepared for this,” one call said.
“Y’all know what to do: protect yourselves and protect each other,” another said.
An armored unit had to come to the intersection of Pennsylvania and North to rescue officers who were trapped. That’s how bad it was.
The FOP says orders from the top were that officers should not look intimidating so as not to escalate the situation.
Ultimately the commissioner lost his job as the department has also struggled to respond to the wave of violence that followed the unrest.